Neither a bone-jarring tackle nor an interception could slow Marian Catholic's Pat Schmidt last year.
A couple of hand injuries did. In football, Schmidt broke his thumb and had to have a season-ending surgery. In baseball, he was off to a fast start when he slid into first base and tore his fourth metacarpal bone.
"I thought it was OK, but then it swelled up," Schmidt said. "The doctor said I was through.
"It was disappointing to miss both football and baseball seasons."
A lot of players would be looking over their shoulder or be extra careful after two injuries, but not Schmidt.
"I really have never though much about it," he said. "When I see a rush coming, I just roll out. Coach (Jerry) Verde has worked with me on that. That is not just about not getting hurt, but not getting sacked, and making a play."
Schmidt has made a few of those this year. He is 59-of-127 passing for 577 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. Verde said Schmidt has responded well to the new coaching staff and the challenges of being a leader.
"While that set him back from where he could have been, it has also helped give him an appreciation of staying in the moment and having fun," Verde said. "Pat has a great arm and good size. He has continually improved since day one of summer."
Schmidt said he had to put in the extra time, plus Verde and assistant coach Mike Taylor have worked on a quick release.
"We do a one-, two-step drop and release," Schmidt said. "You really learn timing and you have to really work on it to be good at it.
"You have to work with your receivers and, at first, it is kind of awkward. You work on it until it feels natural."
The Spartans (2-4) have dropped four straight and face East Suburban Catholic Conference foe St. Patrick on Saturday morning at Hanson Stadium. While Schmidt said it has been tough dropping four straight, the Dyer resident said there is a good feeling of being part of getting the Marian program back on its feet.
"Obviously things have not happened like we wold have liked it to, but we have a chance to go out and do something ( in the last three games)," Schmidt said. "We need to develop more of a running game.
"Coach Verde is a good coach and he is a proven winner. He will turn the program around."